Did the people of Ninevah kill Jonah's father?
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I would pose a question if God asked you or me as His Messenger to go to Iraq or Syria and preach to Isis, Isil, and now simply Is, so they would repent and God would spare their leaders and fighters from judgment, what would we do? Ninevah was the Capital of the Assyrian Empire, actually the forerunner of a lot of Isis fighters, they were just as savage and ruthless. Their God was Dagon, the fish god, which looks ironic, considering Jonah's experience. It seems Jonah's ungraceful decision to run [ Jonah 1:3 ] instead of relay God's message was one of first rebellion against God but also repulsion of the Ninevites. In his rebellion, he still spoke for The Lord and admitted his sin, and the men on the boat actually began praying. [ Jonah 1:9-14 ] So one might say Jonah preached to the sailors, with results, before the great fish adventure and his expelling to where God had wanted him to go in the first place. Some have proffered that he might have been bleached ghostly white inside the fish, if so what a sight he would have been. God must have empowered his preaching also for the whole city repented unto being spared judgment then. Again would we want the barbarian Isis leaders and fighters spared judgment? That's the question we as God's children should truly ask ourselves. Hopefully, our thankfulness for our forgiveness and the Love that God demands toward all humanity would compel us to obey Him to preach The Gospel to everyone.
This is personal for me because I have a father that I have abhorred most of my 54 years of life. Now my greatest struggle is to show him respect and assist in his frailty of life at 90. All siblings have distanced themselves from him... he is vicious and prides himself on this. As my youth has passed I have grown apathetic to him ever being saved, and worse it has grown to a repulsed attitude towards him. Yet God has called me to minister to him. God has extended his life so that I can bring the message of God to him. I understand why Jonah ran... I understand now better than ever. Jonah felt Nineveh deserved Judgement the people were proud,vicious and a ruthless nation...but God said they were morally and spiritually blinded...who do not know the difference between their right and left hand. Since God is gracious and compassionate and slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness... should God destroy them or show mercy on whom he desires? Our job is to remove ourselves from judgement and just deliver the message and hope that they will believe and change morally. Our job is to go and not run no matter how much we fear, hate, or repulsed by them. The greater the struggle... the greater the harvest.
Jonah had gone through a very traumatic experience of three days in the fish, and naturally might have thought that such an ordeal would mean that the Ninevites would be destroyed by God. He did not hate the Ninevites. The Lord had told Jonah that Nineveh would be overthrown (Jonah 3:4, 10), but changed his mind when he witnessed their true repentance. This is why Jonah was angry (Jonah 4:1, 4, 9). It indicated he was a false prophet according to Mosaic standards. Why did the Ninevites repent? Perhaps exactly due to Jonah's experience, since they honored a god called Dagan or Dagon, a man-fish god that was widely recognized in Mesopotamia, and by the Philistines. It can be many millennia before the mysterious ways of the Lord can begin to be clearly seen, and prophets do live the most difficult lives of all true believers.
In my opinion, Jonah's reaction to God sparing Nineveh as a result of the city's repentance did not reflect hatred on Jonah's part toward the Ninevites, but was a self-centered, prideful response on his part to the fact that his warning of destruction to Nineveh did not come to pass. He placed greater importance on his own reputation as a prophet than on the purpose for which God had called on him to go to Nineveh and preach -- so that the people there would be moved to repent, and thus be spared by God. That was why God provided the experience with the gourd related in Jonah 4:5-11 -- to illustrate to Jonah that the saving of the people of Nineveh was of greater importance to Him than any loss of authority, respect, or credibility that Jonah might feel that he had experienced or would experience as a result of the destruction of which he had warned the Ninevites not coming to pass. I know of no passage that indicates any action taken by the people of Nineveh against Jonah's father (Amittai), or any hatred on the part of Jonah toward Nineveh for that reason. The only other mention of Amittai (aside from Jonah 1:1) that I am aware of is in 2 Kings 14:25, where he is referred to again only as being Jonah's father.
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